Democratic Republic of the Congo

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Mount Nyiragongo volcano
USAID is responding to the Mount Nyiragongo volcanic eruption in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Moses Sawasawa / AFP

Key Developments

On the evening of May 22 local time, Mount Nyiragongo—located approximately 10 miles north of North Kivu Province’s capital city of Goma—erupted, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.  As of May 25, the disaster had resulted in at least 32 deaths and temporarily displaced thousands of people, according to relief actors. The eruption had also damaged or destroyed up to 1,000 buildings and disabled the primary water supply pipeline serving northern Goma, potentially resulting in approximately 500,000 people losing access to safe drinking water.  In response, the Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo  conducted damage assessments, while local authorities requested that residents of Goma avoid non-essential activities outside their homes due to continued seismic activity.  Meanwhile, relief actors assessed the needs of populations adversely affected by the eruption and provided water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) assistance.

On May 25, U.S. Embassy Kinshasa Chargé d’Affaires Marion Ekpuk declared a disaster due to the effects of the volcanic eruption in North Kivu.  In response, USAID’s Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance (USAID/BHA) provided an initial $100,000 to provide WASH assistance, such as clean drinking water and support for cholera prevention efforts in affected communities.  

Health actors have not recorded a new Ebola virus disease case in North Kivu since March 1.

An estimated 27.3 million people will face Crisis or worse levels of acute food insecurity from February to July, the most of any country in the world. USAID/BHA partners continue to support food-insecure households across the Democratic Republic of the Congo.


The Mount Nyiragongo volcanic eruption compounds existing vulnerabilities residents face in eastern DRC due to ongoing armed conflict.  Despite the implementation of a peace agreement in 2003, fighting between forces loyal to the GoDRC and various armed entities—such as the Allied Democratic Forces, the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda, and Mai-Mai militants—has contributed to high levels of insecurity and population displacement in eastern DRC.  Violence, restricted humanitarian access, poor infrastructure, forced recruitment into armed groups, and reduced access to agricultural land and traditional markets have contributed to the deterioration of humanitarian conditions in the DRC and triggered mass internal displacement and refugee outflows.  Insecurity and displacement have also contributed to infectious disease outbreaks throughout the country, including cholera, Ebola virus disease (EVD), malaria, and measles. 

May 25 marks the third time the U.S. Government declared a disaster in the DRC in Fiscal Year 2021.  U.S. Ambassador to the DRC Michael A. Hammer previously re-issued a disaster declaration on October 16, 2020, due to the humanitarian impact of the EVD outbreak in western DRC’s Équateur Province, as well as on November 3, due to the ongoing complex emergency nationwide.





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Last updated: May 28, 2021

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